Students Against Guns on Campus hosted a rally in the West Mall on Tuesday opposing House Bill 937, which, if passed, would allow guns in classrooms of public universities.
The rally aimed to show Texas legislators that the majority of students believe the bill would make campuses more dangerous, according to Jordan Pahl, Middle Eastern studies senior and a founding member of the anti-campus carry organization.
“Guns really alter the atmosphere of a university,” Pahl said. “Our University is already a safe place. The idea that students need their guns on campus to keep them safe is not [right] and … would not change [campuses] for the better.”
The bill is currently being considered in the Texas House. If passed, HB 937 would allow licensed handgun carriers to carry concealed weapons into campus buildings. Certain facilities, such as hospitals, pre-schools, grade schools and sports events, would be exempt.
Pahl said anti-campus carry representatives oppose the bill because of stressed students, drug and alcohol abuse, accidental shootings and the difficulty police officers may have identifying criminals in shooting situations.
Only a few dozen people attended the rally, which anti-campus carry SG President Xavier Rotnofsky and Vice President Rohit Mandalapu and multiple faculty members backed.
Public health professor Alfred McAlister said the majority of UT professors, administration and UTPD officers are also not in favor of campus carry.
“Evidence proves the more guns that are out there, the more people get shot,” McAlister said. “How dare the legislature [be in the process of passing] a law that the University of Texas can’t opt out of. We should be furious. I am.”
Chase Jennings, the senior advisor for Texas’ chapter of Students for Concealed Carry, a national organization in favor of campus carry, said students at public universities such as UT should also see the benefits campus carry could bring to universities.
Jennings said campus carry is more than just a way to protect against mass shootings.
“Unfortunately, police officers cannot be everywhere at all times,” Jennings said. “A lot of situations where [campus carry would work] deal with people protecting themselves when they are alone and are walking around campuses vulnerable to attackers. We have seen time after time where students get raped on campus and get attacked. People have the right to protect themselves.”